Football, Turkey and Hoops
2:50 P.M. WEDNESDAY, NOV. 18, 2009
The History Book on the Shelf is Always Repeating Itself
Apparently it's already mid-November and with Thanksgiving now just right around the corner, the magnificent overlap of college hoops and football begins. It's time to start prepping for the holidays, final exams and another basketball season which promises to be enticing for BU fanatics. Oh, and it's A&M week for football!
So where do we begin?
Let's start with Freshman quarterback Nick Florence and the gridiron Bears. Florence and Co.'s biggest game of the year is Saturday as BU heads to College Station to face the rival Aggies. Baylor will not play in a game of equal importance this year. After drubbing the Ags last year in Waco, BU has a chance to renew their standing against A&M in a much-coveted recruiting war.
While next week's battle in Arlington against the Red Raiders is big too, Saturday's tilt cannot be overlooked. The schools meet for the 106th time this week and there isn't a player dressing for either side that need's reminding of the rivalry's importance for the future of both programs.
Since the two tied in 1990, A&M has owned Baylor in College Station and while the Bears have had recent success at home and on several occasions taken the Aggies to the wire at Kyle Field, an allusive victory at the Aggies' home has not been achieved.
A win Saturday and Baylor fans will be reassured of the progress of the program despite many injuries this season. A loss and BU will again face an uphill battle with recruiting in the Lone Star State.
Simply put--Saturday is huge and that's before we even think about possible bowl game ramifications for either school.
Cagers Break Out!
Despite an unfortunate suspension to senior guard Tweety Carter, the BU men have started the hoops season on the right foot with three home victories. The span of three games in just over 72 hours is a test to the team's off-season workouts, the depth of our bench and of course the grit of fellow BaylorBears.com blogger Chris Yandle who's work I have again chosen to promote.
In his first week of action, junior guard LaceDarius Dunn has already given this space plenty to be encouraged about. Lace notched Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week honors last week, has scored in double digits in 16 straight games and continues to climb the program's all-time scoring list.
Lace and the Bears host one more game at the Ferrell Center before the students leave for Thanksgiving break and the team heads to sunny Lake Buena Vista, Fla., for the Old Spice Classic and their national TV debut (LaceDarius' coming out party) with the Crimson Tide on Thanksgiving night.
For a second straight year, BU athletics will serve as a delicious appetizer during the Turkey Day festivities.
Road Trip for the Ages
9:05 P.M. MONDAY, NOV. 9, 2009
This is for One's Who Stood Their Ground
Baylor's stunning, shocking, straight out-of-nowhere performance Saturday was a win many of us won't soon forget.
And for the first time in a long, long time, I was there to eyewitness my school win a game that us fans can gladly pump our chests about (see picture of myself and buddies posing postgame in front of the scoreboard).
The Bears 40-32 triumph in Columbia was a game and an experience second to none. Freshman Nick Florence broke a school passing record, our offense scored on seven possessions and the Bears defense completely out worked a talented and experienced Mizzou team in the second half.
It still hasn't sunken in how any of this proved possible.
The win is oh so sweet and encouraging as BU now enters the final quarter of its regular season with three games remaining - all against intrastate rivals.
It's the Bears first win against Mizzou since starting Big 12 play, the team's first conference road win in three years and the first time a Baylor team has scored 40 points in a conference game since....
But, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't extra sweet given the fact I was there.
BU put on a heck of a show for the several hundred Baylor faithful that peppered the higher rows of section S at Mizzou's Faurot Field. For a devout supporter of this team for now a full decade, the road trip was a long-overdue reward for the countless excursions fans like myself have taken with this team in good times and bad.
It is for those loyal believers and faithful optimists, that I give Saturday's game ball.
Saturday's win is proof that every so often, the unexpected and the impossible happens in this sport. Loyal Aggies likely experienced the same feeling a few weeks back when A&M bulldozed Texas Tech in Lubbock and diehard Iowa State fans can relate after they made a trip to Lincoln last month and watched their heavy underdog Cyclones knock off Nebraska.
Baylor's turn on this wheel of unpredictability finally arrived Saturday and it will be savored to say the least. When Mizzou's furious comeback was finally thwarted in the waning moments of Saturday afternoon, the BU faithful, once heavily muted by 63,000 Tiger fans, were loud enough to hear in what seemed like any corner of the MU campus.
And it felt great.
It was great for those of us that remember last year's homecoming getting spoiled by Mizzou, for those still bumming about our loss to this school in the Big 12 Conference basketball championship final last March and especially for those that thought this season had been unceremoniously truncated when Robert Griffin tore his ACL in mid September.
Only time will tell if the Bears can build on this performance and get this program in the recently unchartered waters of a bowl berth. For now, we should at the very least be intrigued about the adjustments coach Briles and his staff have been making at halftime.
For others, the instant gratification of a come-from-behind win on the road against the two time reigning Big 12 North champions is sweet enough to enjoy for now.
I'm more than happy to take solace in the fact that this program has undeniably reached a point where our talent and depth can no longer be considered a liability to our development.
Just a reminder: That Florence kid is a true freshman. That's reason enough for us faithful to make trips like this a regular occurrence. Not that I'll ever expect to forget Saturday.
9:40 A.M. TUESDAY, NOV. 3, 2009
Come Ride With Me to the Distant Shore
Cuttin In Line returns this week as we turn the calendar from October to November, the football season's final stanza. The weather has changed, the clocks have been turned back and even baseball season is close to concluding. It's certainly a different feeling than Labor Day weekend, isn't it?
In a few short weeks the Bears' regular season will end. In an even shorter amount of time, our attention as fans will shift to basketball season as our opening tip nears closer every day.
The Bears have one last out-of-state road trip this season before wrapping up the season with the triumvirate of Texas Big 12 schools. With four games remaining, there's still plenty of bragging rights to be earned.
In the meantime, this week provides one more channel to enjoy the oft-imitated but never duplicated experience that is college football gameday. I'm more than ashamed to admit that as the season's 10th week begins, I have yet to attend nary a game in person this season. Disappointing for some standards, unacceptable for my own.
And with Homecoming having already come and gone, I should be thankful that Baylor's once-in-four year appearance in Columbia occurs this season.
Thankful that the Bears are coming this close to CIL's St. Louis headquarters and thankful that I still have friends that recognize the time-honored tradition of hitting the road with the team from time to time.
And while I know many of you share in my enthusiasm for seeing our Bears in hostile territory from time to time, there are still plenty others who have yet to make such a trip.
There are some that have yet to set foot in the Dixie Chicken in College Station, some who have never enjoyed a night at Eskimo Joe's in Stillwater, or enjoyed hot wings at Pluckers in Austin, Illegal Pete's burritos in Boulder and never been to Aggieville in Manhattan.
Of course the enjoyment of other college towns isn't just limited to local greasy spoons, our conference is also home to some of the country's most historic stadiums and gymnasiums. Every Baylor fan should experience in person the starting lineups at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence before the Jayhawks take to the hardwood. You will never forget your first gameday Saturday in Lincoln with the sea of red. Who wouldn't love to spend a fall Saturday under the shadow of the Rocky Mountains in scenic Boulder?
There's a plethora of great game day experiences in this conference that await you and there's more than a handful of schools that are easily reachable with the right amount of planning, fuel-efficient vehicles and friends that are adventurous enough to hit the road and see the world that exists.
So before the Bears even pack up their stuff before boarding their flight to the Show Me State, get your BU brethren together and plan your own northern migration. Friends will unite, stories will be shared, and endless memories will be created.
After all, it'll be nice to have some more of the BU faithful at arm's reach up here.